Debras, Louis

Impressionism, the partakers of the expositions:

Louis Debras


Partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition



Debras (Louis) joined only the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition Debras showed 4 works (R2,p120;R90I,p5;R87,p236;iR1). There had been just one, quite negative, review, blaming him for ‘illustration painting’ and using ‘a heavy and rough paste’ (R90I,p29;R87,p267). One of the works he exhibited was a drawing of  ‘San-Juan de la Rapita’. At the Salon of 1873 he had exhibited the oil painting. He also exhibited a farmer which he had earlier exhibited at the Salon of 1859. (R87;iR1) Adler just mentions that Debras and others ‘were recruited before plans for the first exhibition were finalized’ (R89,p18).
See link for an account.

Louis Debras exhibited almost yearly at the Salon:
Debras exhibited at the Salon from 1843-1879 and at its successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français from 1880-1898. First he exhibited irregularly in 1843 and 1849; 1859 onwards he exhibited almost yearly. He only didn’t exhibit in 1867 + 68 + 75 + 86 + 96 + 97. (iR1)  Didn’t he admit or was he refused? Note that alongside the ‘impressionist’ exposition Debras exhibited a portrait at the Salon of 1874 (iR1;R87). As far as I know, Debras didn’t exhibit at the Expositions Universelle (R231).
Walther and the Dutch Wikipedia wrongly mention that Debras exhibited at the Salon from 1853-66 (R3;iR5). Bénézit wrongly mentions he stopped exhibiting in 1866 (iR69). Other sources wrongly mention he stopped in 1896 (R9;R88;iR4).
See link for an account.

Louis Debras as an artist:
Louis Debras was a pupil of Auguste Dehaussy in Péronne (iR1;iR4;R259;R88). Other sources mention that he was a pupil of Auguste his brother, Jules Dehaussy (1812-91), in Péronne (R9;iR69). Debras painted a wide range of themes: portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, history painting and also made many pastels and drawings (iR1). But he is mainly seen as a portraitist and a genre painter (iR4;iR5;R88;R9;R87;iR69). His genre scenes and street scenes are treated in a realist style (iR69). Debras painted in a very realistic style, especially in his road scenes (iR4;iR5). His aesthetics are quite opposite to those of Renoir and Monet (R9).
Debras stayed several times in Madrid, where he exhibited in 1850 + 51 + 56 at the Spanish Salon and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (iR5;iR4;iR69;R87;R88). Debras was portrayed by Alfred Dehodencq (1822-82) (R88;R9,p223;iR4).

Was Louis Debras an impressionist?
There is not much known about Louis Debras and there are not many good pictures. This makes it hard to discern if he was an Impressionist. He only joined the first ‘impressionist’ exposition and didn’t seem to have had many contacts with the other Impressionists. In that sense he hardly belonged to the ‘impressionist’ art-movement. In his landscapes his use of colour is subdued, there is not much emphasize on the influence of light and the shadows are very greyish. Sometimes his brushstroke is more lively, but he never uses juxtaposed brushstrokes. His portraits seem to be more formel. So, overall he hardly painted in an impressionist style.

A biography of Louis Jules Achille Debras:

  • Louis Jules Achille Debras was born in Péronne (Somme district), about 150km north of Paris (iR4;R9;iR24;iR69;iR1;R259;R88).
    The French Wikipedia site mentions Louis Jules Achille Debras was born 1819/10/03, referring to an archive of La Somme (iR4;R88;iR11).
    Several sources mention Debras was born 1820/10/02 (iR24;iR69;iR23;R9;iR5;aR4;aR5=iR13;aR1=iR35;iR17)
    Walther mentions (wrongly?) he was born in 1834 (R3).
  • 1849: Debras lived 26, rue Feydeau, in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris (iR1)
  • 1850-56: Debras stayed a long time / 6 years / several times in Spain and exhibited in San Fernando (1850 / 51 / 56) and at the Salon of Madrid (1850-56) (iR4;R9;iR69;R3;R88)
  • 1859?-66? : Louis Debras lived at the Rue Saint-Quentin, 22, between the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l’Est in Paris.
  • 1869?-72 : Debras lived at Rue Dupetit-Thouars, cité Boufflers, 12 in Paris (iR1;R259). The location is not quite clear. Avenue de Boufflers is not in the neighbourhood of the Rue Dupetit-Thouars. Boufflers also is a small town about 200km north-east of Paris.
  • 1873-98? : Debras lived at the Rue de Cabrol, 18, a bit south of the Rue Saint-Quentin in Paris (iR1;R2,p120)
  • 1883/02/26: 3 copies made by Debras were auctioned at Hôtel Drouot from the posthumes belongings of Léopold Levert (iR40).
  • 1899/02/01: Louis Debras died (iR4;iR24;R9;iR69;R2,p506).
    Walther (wrongly?) states that he died in 1917 (R3).
  • 2011: in Musée Alfred-Danicourt in Péronne, there has been an exhibition dedicated to forgotten painters and sculptures, including Louis Debras (iR5;iR4). Unfortunately I can’t find a webpage about it.

Most sources on Impressionism don’t mention Louis Debras at all or only very brief. There is no English Wikipedia site about Louis Debras (iR3), Spies omits him. My main sources are Moffett (1986;R2,p120), Walther (2013;R3,p657), Schurr & Cabanne (2008;R9,p219), Adhémar (1974=R87,p236), Monneret (1978-81=R88I,p167), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR4;iR5), Joconde (iR23), RKD (iR24), Eclecticlight (iR35)  and Bénézit (iR69). My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are the Athenaeum (iR2), Wikimedia (iR6), mutualart (iR11), Artnet (iR13), Christies (iR15), invaluable (iR17) and xx. See link for other general references (=R) and for other references to internet sites (=iR). For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading see:
Bénézit (1976,volIII,p408=R75), Busse (1977,p300=R77) (iR24).

Additional references:
  1. Vanished French Impressionists 5 (an article on eclecticlight=iR35)
  2. (Le chemin, l’été, a pastel of Debras auctioned in 2012)
  3. (Ciel d’orage, a pastel of Debras auctioned in 2014)
  4. (drawing + gouache: chemin dans la campagne)
  5. (some auctioned works by Louis Debras)
  6.  (page on Nicolas Henri Carteret, Mayor of Reims from 1845-49 and portrayed by Debras; =iR4)
  7. Pictures send to me by others
  8. x



Recommanded citation: “Louis Debras, a partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874. Last modified 2022/07/05.